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Who: Live in Texas '75, The

Eagle Rock Entertainment // Unrated // October 9, 2012
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted October 24, 2012 | E-mail the Author
The Concert:
When The Who arrived in Houston Texas in November of 1975 on their tour promoting their latest album, The Who by Numbers (which is often underrated) they were masters of their craft and at the top of their game.  Still riding high on the success of the amazing trifecta of Tommy, Who's Next, and the greatest rock album of all time, Quadrophenia, they had gained a legion of new fans (including this writer, only 12 years old at the time) due to Ken Russell movie adaptation of their first rock opera, Tommy.  Though they didn't know it, things would start to slide slowly downhill from there.  Drummer Keith Moon would die weeks after the release of their next album, Who are You? and though they would continue to record and tour, things were never quite the same after that.

This concert shows the band at the height of their skills.  They had just started the American leg of the tour so they weren't tired and counting the days until they could return home, but had finished up the European tour weeks earlier so they had worked out the kinks in the new material and were comfortable playing their set.  It is a thing of beauty.
Always an excellent live band, this concert is full of energy and excitement.  When the group walks on stage, Pete Townshend fiddles with his amp and strums a few chords before launching into Substitute, one of their early hits that has a good amount of power and sets the stage for what's to come.

After playing their very first hit, I Can't Explain, they launch into a fun version of Squeeze Box, an innocuous song based on a dirty joke that was the hit single on Who by Numbers.  They end up playing three tracks from the new album, and none of the band really seems excited by those tracks.  For some reason Townshend has a music stand with some paper secured to it brought on stage when he sings However Much I Booze, which still has me scratching my head (was he afraid he'd forget the lyrics or the cords?) 
A good chunk of this nearly two-hour long concert is taking up by an abbreviated version of Tommy.  Not too surprising since the movie had been released less than 9 months earlier, and they do a fantastic job running through the songs.  They end up with some old standards, ending the show with Magic Bus and My Generation.

The whole show was great, but the highlights included Baba O'Riley and Won't Get Fooled Again from Who's Next, and the single tune from Quadrophenia, Drowned. 
The Who are that they're a live band.  They don't practice the songs until they can play a note-prefect reproduction of the album.  They're raw and energetic and out to have a good time, and in the process they give the audience an unforgettable experience.  That's perfectly illustrated in this show, that's full of fun moments. 
One of my favorites was when the bass player had his moment in the spotlight.  John Entwhistle gets to sing one of his songs in every concert, (this time it was the black humor piece Boris the Spider) and when Pete introduces him, drummer Keith Moon boos and hisses from behind his drum kit.  Keith cuts up fairly regularly, while still playing with amazing stamina (my 16 year old son watched with me and an hour into the show asked how Keith could drum that hard for that long without giving out.  I did not opine that methamphetamines might have had something to do with it).  

The biggest flaw with the show on this DVD is the inexpert camera work that went into filming the concert, but there's nothing that Eagle Vision can do about that.  It was recorded with two cameras (though the second one isn't used for the first couple of songs... I guess the guy was still setting up) and neither had a great view of the stage.  The first camera was on the left (as your' facing the stage), up high, and fairly far away.  John Entwhistle was obscured by a stack of speakers except when he walked to the front of the stage, and the image from this camera was pretty soft.  The second camera, on the right side, was closer and recorded a sharper image and was about stage height, but since it was low people would walk in front of it semi-frequently and obscure the action on stage.  I assume that this was mixed live, because there are a few times that one camera will be off target (Daltrey walks out of frame at one point) and they don't cut to the other camera.  While I would have liked full coverage with a well-trained crew, you have to live with what you have.  While the cinematography isn't perfect, it does the job of capturing one of the great bands at the peak of their power.  
The DVD:

Having previously seen this concert on a bootleg disc, I was impressed with how much the audio and video have been cleaned up and tweaked.  The stereo audio is generally clear and not muffled or filled with tape hiss, but it's not stellar either.  There's only so much that can be done.  The bass isn't as strong as I'd like it, and Daltry's voice isn't a crisp as it should be, but over all this isn't a bad sounding disc.   
The picture quality is decent, much, much better than the bootlegs I've seen.  There's a reason that this wasn't released to DVD earlier though... the image isn't what most consumers would expect after seeing Woodstock and Monterey Pop.  The picture is soft, and colors will bleed as the camera pans across the stage, and there is some video distortion due to the volume of sound coming off the stage (though this is very intermittent and not the standard).  Still, even with those flaws, the disc looks pretty good.  As long as viewers don't go in with high expectations they'll be pleased.
Final Thoughts:
This is a great record of The Who at the height of their career.  It's an energetic and powerful concert where the band really seems to be enjoying themselves.  The music is great and the performance is excellent.  What more could you want?  Highly Recommended.
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Highly Recommended

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